Whether you're the babysitter, the grandparent, the aunt or uncle or the parent, getting kids to clean up can be a challenge. Whether you need help with your chores or want them to take responsibility for a few on their own, here are some tricks we've used to motivate them to whistle while they work!Make It A Game: For little kids who are eager to show off what they're learning, consider games that showcase their new skills like counting and colors (can you bring me 5 cups from the kitchen table?). For older kids, try races and contests like Swiffer floor cleaning races or dirty dust rag contests. High school kids do best when completed chores earn them adult priveleges.
Make It A Challenge: School age kids can be very competitive. Use this to your advantage. One friend told her kids that if their siblings did their chores, they'd have to pay them out of their own pocket!
Put It To Music: Little kids can be motivated with simple clean up songs. Insert their name in the song for added effect. For older kids, let them dj a dance cleaning party. They'll be especially motivated if they feel that you're interested in learning about their favorite bands. Kids love showing off their music knowledge!
Give Them an Invitation: Older kids are saavy to your tricks. Instead of giving them an order, ask them and then give them the right to say no. Of course, that gives you the right to say no when they ask you for a favor!
Break It Down: Blanket orders like "clean your room" can feel overwhelming and confusing. Instead, break down the request into specific tasks: make the bed, put the dirty clothes in the hamper, fold and hang up the clean clothes, clear the floor. It also helps if you give them an estimate of how much time it should take. If all of these tasks take them more than 15 minutes, it's probably time to sit down with them and come up with ways to rethink how their room is organized.
Reframe it: A friend of mine was having trouble getting her daughter to set the dinner table. When she realized that the point of the task was to get the dinner table set but that it could be done anytime, even as early as the end of the previous night's dinner, she sat down with her child and presented this to her. Be open to unusual ideas. So what if they're odd if they get the job done!
Most importantly, give up the idea of perfection. No, the kids in your care will probably not make a bed with the same hospital corner tautness as you do. Be happy that they helped, thank them for doing the best that they can and chances are they'll help you again!
(Image: clogozm, from their Flickr, with a Creative Commons License, some rights reserved)